India has suspended flights from the UK till December 31 after concerns over the new strain of coronavirus in the nation. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has informed that considering the prevailing situation in the UK, the Indian government has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till 11:59 pm, December 31. This suspension to start with effect from 11.59 pm, December 22.
"As a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from UK in all transit flights (flights that have taken off or flights which are reaching India before 22nd Dec at 11.59 pm) should be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at airports," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
Other European countries like Germany, Belgium and France have suspended air travel with United Kingdom. If we receive any information regarding the spread new virus strain in other places, we'll consider suspending air travel with other countries too, the minister added.
India's bar on passenger flights follows similar steps by several European countries on Sunday. A number of countries like Canada, Turkey, Belgium, Italy, and Israel have banned flights from the UK as the British government warned that the potent new strain of the virus was "out of control" and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.
The Union Health Ministry had called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group to discuss the emergence of the mutated variant of the coronavirus, which has led to a surge in the infection rate in the UK.
Following the meeting, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government is alert about the new coronavirus strain in the United Kingdom and that there was no need to panic. The government had done everything that was important to handle the COVID-19 situation in the last one year, the health minister said.
"The government is fully conscious about everything. If you ask me, there is no reason to panic the way we are seeing in this press conference," the minister added.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)